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Shelter-in-place, evacuation orders, flash flood warnings and more hitting Central Coast

A downed tree in San Luis Obispo after the winter storm brought heavy winds and rain.
Gabriela Fernandez
A downed tree in San Luis Obispo after the winter storm brought heavy winds and rain.

San Luis Obispo County map of current emergencies

Santa Barbara County map of current emergencies

Monterey County map of current emergencies

As evacuation and shelter-in-place orders lift throughout the Central Coast, KCBX News will be updating information on this post going forward.

Update: Tuesday, Jan 10 at 2:15p.m.

Santa Barbara County has ended its evacuation and shelter-in-place orders for southern areas of the county including Montecito, Gaviota and parts of Santa Barbara.

However, Sheriff Bill Brown said at a 2p.m. press conference that there are still some exceptions and road closures, and that the storm is still a lingering threat to this area.

You can watch the press conference here, and more information is available here.

Update: Tuesday, Jan 10 at 12:40p.m.

Residents of San Luis Obispo are no longer under a shelter-in-place order.

The city said local businesses do not need floodgates, but that they should have them and similar precautions anyway.

The Paso Robles Police Department has lifted all evacuation orders and warnings throughout the city and has reopened the 13th Street bridge.

Residents in areas including the Navajo Avenue and Riverbank Lane areas were under mandatory evacuations yesterday and this morning, which are now lifted as of 11a.m.

Also in North SLO County, the Sheriff’s Office says it has resumed the search for a five-year-old boy missing after being swept away by floodwaters.

The department called off their divers searching the area yesterday after storm conditions made it too dangerous to continue.

The Sheriff’s Office has identified the missing boy as Kyle Dolan. He went missing yesterday after a storm swept away the vehicle he was in, though his mother was rescued in time.

The Morro Bay Police Department also reports a 78-year-old man was found dead in a boat in Morro Bay today.

The department said the cause is still undetermined and under investigation.

Update: Tuesday, Jan 10 at 7:10a.m.

San Luis Obispo County evacuation orders

SLO County has issued another evacuation order for Oceano residents on the north side of the Arroyo Grande levee. The area is from 22nd Street on the north side of the levee from the bridge, to the south end of county-maintained road.

The county said flooding there is reaching dangerous levels, and residents should seek higher ground immediately.

Areas of Paso Robles are under evacuation orders as well, in the Najavo Avenue Area, Riverbank Lane Area, parts of South Paso Robles Street and parts of North River Road.

Click here for a map of current evacuation areas in SLO County.

Santa Barbara County evacuation orders

Santa Barbara County is still ordering mandatory evacuations of several areas in South County near burn scar areas from past wildfires: the Thomas Fire in Montecito, the Cave Fire in the Santa Ynez mountains above Santa Barbara, and the Alisal Fire west of Goleta.

All of Montecito as well as parts of Carpinteria, Summerland and Santa Barbara are now under evacuation orders as well.

In Santa Barbara, there are evacuation centers at La Colina Jr. High School and Santa Barbara City College's Wake Campus. There is another one at the Veteran’s Memorial Building in Carpinteria.

Click here for current evacuation orders in Santa Barbara County.

Current evacuation centers

There are evacuation shelters set up around the Central Coast in areas where people nearby are under mandatory evacuation orders.

In San Luis Obispo County, there are shelters at the Paso Robles Ponderosa Pavilion, San Luis Obispo Nazarene Church and Morro Bay Del Mar Elementary School.

In Santa Barbara County, there are shelters at the Minami Community Center in Santa Maria, the Veterans Memorial Building in Carpinteria, the Santa Barbara City College Wake Campus in Santa Barbara, and La Colina Junior High School also in Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara County says the SBCC Wake Campus shelter reached capacity last night, and set up La Colina Junior High as an overflow shelter.

For more information on evacuation shelters, visit readysbc.org for Santa Barbara County and readyslo.org for SLO County.

San Luis Obispo County school closures

  • Cal Poly SLO
  • Cuesta College
  • San Luis Coastal Unified School District 
  • Lucia Mar schools 
  • Paso Robles Joint Unified School District
  • The Cayucos Elementary School District 
  • San Miguel Joint Union School District Schools
  • Atascadero Unified School District
  • Coastal Christian School in Pismo Beach

Santa Barbara County school closures

  • UC Santa Barbara
  • Allan Hancock College
  • Santa Barbara Unified School District 
  • The Santa Maria Bonita School District 
  • Lompoc Unified School District 
  • Santa Maria Joint Union High School District 
  • Santa Barbara City College
  • Orcutt Union School District 

Update: 5:40p.m.

The SLO County Sheriff's Office has suspended its search for a five-year-old boy swept away by floodwaters in Paso Robles.

Divers reportedly searched in San Marcos Creek for hours before the sheriff's office determined conditions were too unsafe to continue.

The department said divers will reevaluate whether they can continue the search when weather conditions become less hazardous.

California Highway Patrol officers also said a driver died from drowning on Avila Beach Road this afternoon after driving onto the flooded roadway.

Update: 4:45p.m.

The American Red Cross has opened emergency shelters in Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo amid evacuation orders in both areas.

The two locations are the Paso Robles Event Center at 2198 Riverside Ave., and the Nazarene Church at 3396 Johnson Ave. in San Luis Obispo.

Update: 4p.m.

SLO County has issued an evacuation order for residents near the Arroyo Grande Creek Channel. The county says the channel is full and beginning to overtop the south levee, which will likely flood low-lying areas near the creek.

The order is in place for residents south of the Arroyo Grande Creek Channel, who the county urges to seek higher ground immediately.

Update: 3:40p.m.

The City of Paso Robles is ordering more mandatory evacuation orders on South Paso Robles Street and Riverbank Lane. This is on top of preexisting evacuation orders in the city for the area west of South River road at Navajo and Rio Courts.

Visit prcity.com/AlertCenter for more information.

The city says evacuees can find shelter at the Ponderosa Pavilion located at the Paso Robles Event Center (Mid-State Fairgrounds) at 2198 Riverside Avenue.

Update: 2:25p.m.

San Luis Obispo County Office of Emergency Services says residents in low lying areas south of Highway 1 along the Arroyo Grande Creek Channel should be prepared to evacuate.

The county says the channel’s levees are still stable right now, but intense rain could cause a spill or levee failure that would give residents little time to evacuate.

Officials are also urging residents surrounding Oceano Lagoon to be prepared for flooding and evacuation. The lagoon has reached capacity and could overflow into surrounding neighborhoods.

The areas are south of the Arroyo Grande Creek Channel for one mile and west of Highway 1. This includes all areas north of the Arroyo Grande Creek Channel and south of Beach Street, and north of the Arroyo Grande Creek Channel west of 19th Street south of Ocean Street; and south of Pier Ave and west of Highway 1.

Update: 1:50p.m.

There is now an evacuation order in place for areas of Paso Robles, as the city reports rising flood waters have reached critical levels.

The evacuations are west of South River road at Navajo and Rio Courts. The city says residents in the following areas should prepare to evacuate:

• Villa Del Rio apartments between 82 Rio Court and 98 Rio Court

• Between 70 Navajo Avenue to 96 Navajo Avenue

• 203 Vista Del Rio Court to 213 Vista Del Rio Court

The city says staff will update evacuation warnings here.

Update: 12:50p.m.

All of Montecito as well as parts of Carpinteria, Summerland and Santa Barbara are now under evacuation orders, according to Santa Barbara County. An evacuation center is open at the Wake Center, located at 300 N. Turnpike Road in Santa Barbara.

This is in addition to the preexisting evacuation orders in the Gaviota area west of Goleta and the Santa Ynez Mountains above Santa Barbara.

Update: 12:30p.m.

Santa Barbara County is again ordering mandatory evacuations of several areas in South County near burn scar areas from past wildfires: the Thomas Fire in Montecito, the Cave Fire in the Santa Ynez mountains above Santa barbara, and the Alisal Fire west of Goleta.

Sheriff Bill Brown said there is potential for flash flooding, so people should shelter-in-place and not try to leave until directed. That could come in the form of emergency sirens, cell phone advisories or other means of communication.

San Luis Obispo County is still under a flash flood warning. There are temporary evacuation centers set up in San Luis Obispo at the Marigold Shopping Center and Foothill Shopping Center.

The county reports that there is a search and recovery operation in Paso Robles for a five-year-old child who was in a car swept away by flood water at San Marcos Road.

The county said parents were able to get out of the vehicle, but the child is still missing.

The City of San Luis Obispo is urging residents to shelter in place until the National Weather Service ends its flash Flood warning at around 4:45 p.m. this afternoon. Local law enforcement say heavy rain across some areas are already producing dangerous flash flooding.

Around three inches of rain have fallen in San Luis Obispo County over the past several hours, according to the National Weather Service. One to three more inches are possible in some areas as the storm continues.

The agency said most flood deaths happen in vehicles. Life-threatening flash flooding is most likely in creeks, streams, urban areas, highways, streets and underpasses.

Cal Poly is evacuating students, faculty and staff from agriculture facilities on campus. An alert from the university said there is no imminent threat to the campus core, but that they are evacuating people and animals in the area out of an abundance of caution.

The university is asking people to stay away from Stenner Creek Road and Mt. Bishop Road.

Update: 11:40a.m.

The City of San Luis Obispo has declared a local emergency. The city's emergency preparedness website is slocity.org/prepare.

The SLO Tribune reports the city fire department is evacuating homes and businesses on South Higuera Street between Marsh Street and Elks Lane due to “significant flooding."

PG&E said there are almost 13,000 customers on the Central Coast without power. The utility said high winds, flooding and soil issues are making it unsafe for crews to work in some area, which could lead to extended outages. That is especially true for areas like Morro Bay, Cayucos, Cambria and north of the Cuesta Grade.

For those heading north into San Luis Obispo, CalTrans said northbound Highway 101 is closed at Avila Beach Drive due to flooding.

Original post - 11a.m. Jan 9

The Central Coast is experiencing shelter-in-place orders, evacuation warnings, flash flood alerts and more as the winter storm hits the area.

There is a flash flood warning in San Luis Obispo County until 4:45pm. That means do not travel unless you're fleeing because of an evacuation order or you are in area that's flooding.

There is also a shelter-in-place for the Alisal Fire burn scar area in Santa Barbara County, west of Goleta. Refugio Road is impassable.

The evacuation warnings for the Thomas Fire burn scar area in Montecito and the Cave Fire burn scar area in the Santa Ynez mountains above Santa Barbara are still in place.

There is also a high wind warning and a flood watch for the San Luis Obispo area.

Flood advisory is in effect and several roads in San Luis Obispo are flooded or closed. Right now, that includes Los Osos Valley Road at Foothill Boulevard, Tank Farm Road and Higuera Street, and Marsh Street.

Highway 101 is being hit hard, with several on-ramps and off-ramps currently closed. Northbound exits for Prado Road, Madonna Road, and Marsh Street are closed. Broad Street is the first northbound exit available, according to the city.

Heading north into San Luis Obispo is especially difficult right now, especially headed through the Five Cities area.

To find dispatch numbers, hotlines, warming centers, where to find sandbags and more, visit readyslo.org for SLO County, readysbc.org for Santa Barbara County or Monterey County’s emergency preparedness website.

For information on local highway conditions, visit CalTrans District 5’s website or Twitter. Local weather conditions are online at the National Weather Service website, weather.gov.

In case of power outages, Pacific Gas & Electric has an interactive map of outages in their service area, including the Central Coast.

Benjamin Purper was News Director of KCBX from May of 2021 to September of 2023. He came from California’s Inland Empire, where he spent three years as a reporter and Morning Edition host at KVCR in San Bernardino. Dozens of his stories have aired on KQED’s California Report, and his work has broadcast on NPR's news magazines, as well. In addition to radio, Ben has worked as a newspaper reporter and freelance writer.
Gabriela Fernandez came to KCBX in May of 2022 as a general assignment reporter, and became news director in December of 2023. She graduated from Sacramento State with a BA in Political Science. During her senior year, she interned at CapRadio in their podcast department, and later worked for them as an associate producer on the TahoeLand podcast. When she's not writing or editing news stories, she loves to travel, play tennis and take her 140-lbs dog, Atlas, on long walks by the coast.
KCBX Reporter Amanda Wernik graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a BS in Journalism. Amanda is currently a fellow with the USC Center for Health Journalism, completing a data fellowship that will result in a news feature series to air on KCBX in the winter of 2024.
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